“Invisible Man” by R. Ellison Book Review

From the very beginning, Ralph Ellison, the author of “Invisible Man” begins to justify the name of the book. In the first paragraph of the first chapter “Battle Royal,” the author admits that he “had to discover” that he is “an invisible man!” (Ellison) The author uses this expression, at first, in the context of finally finding himself in life, despite what people might say. At first sight, the metaphor is hard to understand, yet, when you realize that Ellison narrates a story of a black man, the invisibility becomes clear. This is not a story of a modern superhero, yet it is a story of a society that lives of stereotypes and trying to cease some people to exist by not recognizing them as the valuable parts of the social world.

The first chapter of the book, ‘Battle Royal’ tells the reader about the main character, whose name is unknown to us, visiting the ball, which was a town meeting, which author describes as “gathering of the town’s leading white citizens” (Ellison), after he gave a fantastic speech at his graduation. Despite the slavery not being a thing for quite a long time, the discrimination towards the black people continued to happen, which Ralph Ellison shows while describing an even during his visit to the ballroom.

When the author first describes the main character’s journey into the world of rich, nothing seems to bother the reader. The invisible man, slowly observed the space, he had been invited too, and noticed that he did not seem to interest anyone in the room, “other fellows did not care too much for me either, and there were nine of them.” (Ellison) The young man also was to participate in the battle with some other men, yet something interrupted their plans. As they were put into the tight group, topless and with their boxing gloves, they heard that something was happening, “big shots were becoming increasingly excited over something we still could not see.” (Ellison) At first, it sounds like something typical for racist America – rich white people getting the advantage to see something that a group of young people of color is unable to look at, standing in the back. However, the situation turns completely, as the group is asked to be at the front. The reason for their gathering at the front was a young blonde white woman, who danced naked. The scene describes the horror of the character, a young, freshly graduated man, who was forced to look at the dancing naked lady. The whole situation resembled a circus for the rich white men – “Some threatened us if we looked and others if we did not.” (Ellison) The situation that happened in the hotel ballroom perfectly describes the mentality of the USA of that times – black people were never seen as individuals, yet rather like a mass to serve the ones, who are in authority. The resemblance of the circus does not only strike in the mind of a reader, at the end of the chapter, the main character tells us that he had a dream, where he was in the circus with his grandfather, who “he refused to laugh at the clowns no matter what they did.” (Ellison)

The first chapter of the Ralph Ellison’s book, ‘Battle Royal,’ at first seems only to describe the experience of the young black man going into the world of the rich white people, who rule the town. However, while reading the chapter, you realize that the whole description of the town meeting uncovers people’s perception of black people – a mass, which has not uniqueness to it, yet is used for the pleasure of the people, who seem to be able to afford anything.

Works Cited

Ellison, Ralph. “Invisible Man.” 1952. Accessed on November 14, from https://genius.com/Ralph-ellison-invisible-man-chap-1-battle-royal-annotated

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 20, 2022]
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